Monday, March 30, 2015

Demo, Demo Everywhere

The upstairs and backyard are currently in ruins, but it's all in the name of progress - or so we keep telling ourselves! Over the last couple of weeks, we hired out some demo work upstairs with the main goal being to reconfigure the current staircase. The staircase is in the center of the house, so many elements tie into it. We hope things will really start falling into place around the new stairs once they're done.

I decided to experiment with a video blog post to give you a little walk-through. Here are some before shots to keep in mind as you watch :)

The current stairs, as seen from the kitchen.

The upstairs half bath, gone before we ever got to use it.

The back patio and rock wall that are no longer with us.

On to the video!

Hope you're all having a great week! We'll check in again soon.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Jenn-Air Dual Fual Range, Garden Setup, and Snow

My goodness, what a long blogging hiatus! Life happens, and all you can do is roll with it. Since our last post (about five months ago!), Steven and I have both started new jobs. He is also working part time as an EMT, and I've been dabbling with a girlfriend in a small baking business. House progress has slowed with all this, but I wanted to share about our range and give you a glimpse of our garden setup.

Our last post ended with, "A VERY exciting delivery arrived this morning, hopefully we'll be makin' bacon by the weekend!" My apologies for keeping everyone in suspense all this time :) Folks, we went a year and nine months without a range - that's crazy. Our slow cooker is on an extended and well-deserved vacation.

The photo above is from the oven's first run back on September 20, and yes, we've taken the warning sticker off since then! At my request, Steven made his excellent baked salmon smothered with sour cream, butter, and chives along with steamed broccoli and sauteed red pepper. We "ooohed" and "aahhed" through the whole meal - I'll never forget it! Don't get me wrong, the slow cooker is a wonderful and very versatile thing; however, you just don't get bold flavors and contrasting textures from a slow cooker meal. We both enjoy cooking and I especially love baking, so the new range is certainly broken in by now :)

We went with Jenn-Air's 30-inch slide-in dual fuel range with convection oven. This is model JDS8850CDS, if anyone is appliance shopping. (Also, when I went to Jenn-Air's website just now to get the range info, I learned that this model has already been replaced with JDS1450DS.) I must say that researching appliances was very overwhelming. No brand out there (in our budget anyway) has outstanding reviews across the board. Plus, people of the internet are much more likely to post a complaint rather than a good review.

The dual fuel range concept, gas cook top with electric oven, is supposed to be the best of both worlds. Electric burners are slower to heat up and cool down, and I read that gas ovens add moisture to the baking environment, which can interfere with breads/cakes rising properly. I had never cooked on a gas stove before, and, honestly, the open flame made me a bit nervous at first. I also had to get used to the immediate heat and easing up on seasoning after being accustomed to dumping salt/pepper/spices into the slow cooker just to get a hint of flavor. Bottom line - after using this stove for almost six months, I absolutely love it and wouldn't change a thing!

On to the snow and a peek at the garden setup!

See, I think the yard looks better this way, haha! The snow covers up all the bare, grass-less (weed-less?) spots where the pups have wrestled and dug holes. This past Wednesday, north Alabama got a BIG snow. It accumulated at about an inch per hour here, and I measured 6 to 6.75 inches of snow in our yard after it all stopped falling. The official total for our city was 8.1 inches, which put February 25, 2015, in second place for total snowfall in a single day in Huntsville!

In the photo above, you can make out our raised beds and compost bins. The plan is to try the square foot gardening route this spring, so we set up two 4' x 4' cedar beds back in the fall. The beds are already filled with the vermiculite/peat moss/compost mixture, and the tricky part has been keeping Lily and Ginny out! Eventually, we'd like to add a couple more beds and fence the whole area to keep the pups out of the garden. I'll post updates as it warms up and things get going!

For the compost bin, we followed the instructions from Organic Gardening's Ultimate Compost Bin article. It's made of cedar with chicken wire attached to the inside walls and metal fence posts screwed to the front to keep the unit in place. We have been putting all of our fruit/vegetable scraps, egg shells, and coffee grounds, plus leaves from the yard in the compost bin. We are excited to use the compost in the garden beds and elsewhere in the yard since we have heavy, clay-ey soil and not so good drainage.

Hope you are all having a warm and cozy weekend! :)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Kitchen Backsplash Inspiration

     We have looked through countless photos in our quest for Craftsman style with modern amenities, and I wanted to share two of my favorites for backsplash inspiration. What did people do before Houzz and Pinterest?! It seems like much of the tile used for Craftsman-style installations has that handmade look with just a smidge of inconsistency in shape and glaze, which adds so much character. That's what I'm picturing in our kitchen :)

     In the comments from this photo (above), Ms. Sammons says that the tile was made by Motawi Tileworks. Check out their online catalog - it's gorgeous! I love the layout of this backsplash because it features tiles in multiple sizes along with some accent relief tiles. Click on the image to see the entire project gallery on Houzz.

     This photo has already inspired our kitchen's cabinet finish and countertop, so it seems like a no-brainer to stick to this beautifully designed scheme for the backsplash! The glass tile accent has really grown on me since the first time I saw this image, and something similar would tie in well with our dining room fixture. What do you think? Again, click on the image to see the entire project gallery on Houzz.

Currently pondering over these tile samples in our kitchen...

     We recently went back to visit Marion at Ceramic Harmony here in Huntsville. They did a perfect job of fabricating and installing our countertops, so we want to give them our business again when we're ready to buy tile for the backsplash. I'm feeling quite set on these samples (above), but the layout is still undecided. We're planning to DIY the backsplash and it will be our first tile project, so I don't want to overcomplicate things. I mean, we never overcomplicate things around here, right? ;)
     For your viewing pleasure, the sample tiles are arranged so you can see how they look with the cabinet finish, flooring, and countertop. The glass tile is by Lunada Bay Tile, and the pattern is a Sumi-e custom blend with colors Zushi and Honey. If we include the glass, it will likely be a single row above the bottom row of field tile. The ceramic field tile is by Pratt & Larson, and the finish is one of their Craftsman Matte glazes in the color C330.

     Thanks for reading and please check back later in the week. A VERY exciting delivery arrived this morning, hopefully we'll be makin' bacon by the weekend!